How to choose an online communication tool for your classes?

We strongly suggest you use a videoconferencing tool for your online classes. Video can really make communication more straightforward, and it helps connects with your students. A smile always goes a long way.

Don’t you worry! Most online communication tools are easier to use than you think. Last week, I taught my 70-something year old mom how to use Zoom. We’ve practiced a few times together and she’s taught two QiGong classes with 10-12 students since.

Private lessons

For private lessons with only one student, it’s possible to use popular communication tools such as Skype, WhatsApp, FaceTime, Facebook or Instagram.

These tools only work if your students are already members of these platforms, or if they own an Apple product in the case of FaceTime. You will therefore need to check with your students if your communication tool works with them. Otherwise, you can choose from one of the options we’ve outlined below for group courses, some of which require no subscription nor registration and work on all computers, tablets and smart phones.

Group courses

For group courses with more than one student, there is an incredible amount of solutions, some with fees but many others free of charge. Zoom is quite popular these days, but many voices have raised concerns with security. It’s up to you to choose the solution that works best for your own context.

Solutions free of charge

  • Jitsi Meet, free for up to 75 participants, without any time limit.
  • Cisco Webex, free for up to 100 participants, without any time limit.
  • Zoom, free for up to 100 participants, limited to 45 minutes.
  • Skype Meet Now, free for up to 50 participants, without any time limit.
  • UberConference, free for up to 10 participants, limited to 45 minutes (there is a two-months exception during COVID-19: 100 participants and up to 5h free).
  • Startleaf, free for up to 20 participants, limited to 45 minutes.
  • Talky, free for up to 6 participants, without any time limit.

Solutions with fees

  • GoTo Meeting, from 16.25$/month, up to 150 participants.
  • RemoteHQ, very limited free offer, otherwise from 9.99$US/month.
  • Whereby, very limited free offer, otherwise from 9.99$US/month.
  • BlueJeans, from 9.99$US/month, up to 50 participants.
  • Highfive, 199$US/month, includes hardware such as video cameras and microphones.

Our recommendations

Our tips for choosing an online communication tool

  • If you’re looking for something free and simple: Jitsi Meet 
Read our blog post hoosgood + Jitsi Meet
  • If you’re looking for something free and secure: Cisco Webex.
Read our blog post hoosgood + Cisco Webex (coming soon)
  • If you’re willing to pay or to limit yourself to 45 minutes sessions: Zoom
 Read our blog post hoosgood + Zoom

Our tips before your online class

We suggest that you try things out with a friend or family before your first online class with your students. My experience with my mom highlighted the following points:

  • Test your different devices (iPad, phones, computers) to see which one works best for your context. For us, the iPad turned out to have a best sound and video quality than the computer.
  • Test the sound. In the first room we tried, there was too much echo, but when she moved to a second room with a rug, the sound was much better.
  • Test the lighting. Make sure there’s no backlighting, adjust the lighting according to time of the day, and add a side lamp if necessary.

Our tips during your online class

Familiarize yourself with all the features that each communication tool offers. For example:

  • Mute all participants. Once you’ve greeted everybody, we suggest you mute all students in order to avoid background noise. If a participant wants to speak, he'll simply have to activate his microphone.
  • Mute one participant. That’s useful if one person is noisy without realizing it, for example if they’re not in front of their camera anymore. As the host, you can mute one participant or even kick them out of the class on most videoconferencing tools.

You have questions or want to give it a try? Our team is here to help: